December 12, 2012

Sergio & Hope

While I tend to not agree with the bootstrap statement in relation to poverty within the United States, I want to make it clear that this really is not an option here. 

The “get off the couch, find a job and work hard” methodology is almost impossible when nearly sixty percent of Nicaraguans find themselves unemployed or underemployed with little work to be found.

We recently received the final papers for our class.  Students were supposed to identify and present a conflict in their lives, analyze the conflict using the theories and methods that they learned in class and create a step by step plan for resolving and transforming the conflict.

Many of the conflicts were hopeful.  The students were able to identify and implement tools that they had learned to resolve their conflict, but it was hard for me to find hope with the following.

Sergio wrote that over this past semester he has encountered a “very difficult economic problem.”  There are eight people in his extended family living together in a small two room home outside of Managua.  He shares that not everyone depends on him for economic assistance, “only three.”  The little amount of money that he obtains during the week from a small roadside stand selling refreshments and cheese churritos does not cover their “basic necessities.”  To cover his costs over this past year, he has taken out a monthly loan of 1000.00 cordobas, equivalent to $40.00 USD.  This loan, like many available here in Nicaragua, has a 20% interest rate each month.

Roadside Corn Stand(source)                                         (source)

He continues by writing, “culturally we are a low-class family, very poor, there are no professionals within our home.  We are at a critical point emotionally.  However, I continue to look for other opportunities, to better our economic situation.” 

The hope that I see here in the people often surprises me.  The resilience of individuals and families despite constant let downs and difficulties is something that I don’t quite understand. 

Sergio is in his early sixties, a time when many people in the United States begin thinking about retirement and slowing down, but this is not a viable option for him and many in Nicaragua.  He has lived in economic poverty for his whole life and yet, he keeps on going.  I don’t know if I would continue to have this drive and willpower after so many years of disappointment?  What about you?

Please pray and lift up our neighbors, friends, students and those that we interact with on a daily basis here in Nicaragua.  This story is incredibly common and their realities are often so harsh.  I have much to learn from them!

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and Joy. Amen

-Mother Theresa

*Sergio gave us permission to share his story.  His name was changed to protect his confidentiality.

December 8, 2012

Crunchy Asian Salad

We thought that we would share a new favorite recipe that we have been whipping up quite frequently.  We actually had it tonight with some friends who were over and they all loved it!  It doesn’t seem super Christmas-ey, but with the red cabbage you can add some pretty color to the table.

I am a bit of an obsessive eater.  When I find something that I like, I make it all of the time, go a little overboard, love it for three weeks and then never eat it again.  I am trying to get better at this, but it is hard to stop when you find something so yummy!  Here is our crunchy Asian salad recipe inspired by this site and this site:

Toss together the following:

  • 1 head of lettuce or bunch of spinach
  • 1 head of red cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro
  • 1/2 bunch of green onions
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 cup of peanuts (we add “hot and spicy”) 
  • strips of cooked chicken (optional)

For the dressing, blend the following:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable (canola) oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

We usually double the batch.  Extra salad dressing in the fridge is never a problem!

Toss together and serve it up!  We hope that you enjoy it as much as we do.  And the best part is that here in Nicaragua, we are still finding about half of the necessary ingredients in our home garden.